Here is where you will find the most frequently-asked questions (FAQs) about BUS 477. If your question is not answered here, please use the class discussion forum to ask your question (general questions) or contact the instructor (personal questions.)

General Questions About the Class


Where and when are the classes?
The current (Fall) class is offered at the Burnaby campus of Simon Fraser University. Classes are held on Tuesdays from 16:30 and are four (4) hours long. Our room is WMC3260. We will also meet in a larger classroom for lectures with ENSC201.

Do I need any business experience to do well in this course?
No. Anyone who applies themselves can get an A+ in this course… and win money!

English is not my first language. Is perfect English required?
If you want top grades in this course, your written assignments will have to be both grammatically correct and free of spelling mistakes. This standard applies to native and non-native speakers of English.

What is unique and different about this class?
One of the key outcomes of this class is a business plan for a technical idea. The engineers (ENSC 201) come up with the idea and the business students (BUS 477) develop it.



How are assignments graded?
All assignments for BUS 477 are graded by me (Ean Jackson). I grade out of 100, then convert to one decimal. (e.g. The paper is out of 15. Your grade on the paper is 82/100. Your recorded grade is then 12.3 / 15). For your final grade, I will round up (e.g. 82.5 will be 83.) To make the grading as objective as possible, I use a grading rubric for both oral and written assignments.

How do you convert from a digital to a letter grade?
Your final grade for the class will be a letter grade (e.g. 83 will be A-)


90 – 100


85 – 89


80 – 84


75 – 79


70 – 74


65 – 69


60 – 64


55 – 59


Early and Late Assignments

Assignments may be handed in at any time. All assignments must be submitted to receive a passing grade in the course. Early submissions do not benefit from extra grades. Late assignments will lose 10% of the available grade for each day overdue, including weekends.

Participation Grades
10% of the grade of this course is for class participation. Of this grade, 5% is allocated to your contribution to the class and 5% toward your contribution to the community of entrepreneurs.

Class participation includes attending class, leading or participating in class discussions, summarizing your participation in entrepreneurial events for the class, answering surveys and other class-related activities.

Community participation includes contributing useful links and references to the class website, volunteer work with entrepreneurial associations, participation in business plan competitions, attendance at entrepreneurial events in Vancouver and other activities that benefit the larger entrepreneurial community.

Grade Disputes
I aim to be very objective with how I grade (see grading rubrics) and very fair relative to the class and the grading guidelines imposed by SFU. That stated, I am open to hearing your argument if you feel the grade I assigned you was not what you deserved.

If you would like to dispute a grade:

  • contact me by email within one (1) week of receiving the grade
  • in your email, state the assignment number, the grade you received, the grade you feel you deserved and very specifically, the reasons why you feel your grade should be revised

I will consider your argument and reply to it within one (1) week of receiving your note. I will regrade your paper. The revised grade I assign may go up, it may go down or it may stay the same. If you are not satisfied with the revised grade, we will follow a formal departmental grade dispute procedure.


Format of papers

All assignments are to be submitted in business report format. All references and statistics are to be footnoted. Readability is key. Poor grammar and spelling will be penalized.

Assignments may be submitted digitally, hard copy or both. The final assignment (business plan) must be submitted both digitally and in hard copy.

Please make sure assignments you send by email are not lost by using the following subject line formatting:

BUS477 – Assignment #n – “Assignment Name” – “your name”

  • n – the number of the assignment (e.g. 1-5)
  • “Assignment Name” – the name of the assignment (e.g. The Board)
  • “Your Name” – last name, first name (e.g. JacksonEan)


Teams and Team Project

How are teams structured?

Teams are comprised of 5-7 students from BUS 477 and ENSC 201. The idea is to see 2-3 students from BUS477 paired with 3-5 students from ENSC201 for an average team size of 6. We would like to see the total number of teams for the combined classes be 15-18… this so you have a 1:5 or 1:6 probability of winning cash!

How do I get on a team?
Students in BUS 477 will be asked to form teams of 2 or 3. Since some students drop the class and some on the wait list join it, we won’t form teams until the second week. You are welcome to pick your own team. Those who have no preference for a partner will be randomly assigned to a team.

How can I choose a team if I don’t know what the business idea is?
That’s part of the “real world” fun. The engineers determine the idea. Both classes will meet on the first day of classes for a mixer and frequently throughout the semester. The ENSC 201 students will aim to have their ideas in and approved by the second class. Once an idea has been approved by the ENSC 201 instructor, there will be an opportunity for the students of BUS 477 to hear the ideas and match up with students of ENSC 201. The details of the project will be developed during the semester.

Can I use any idea for my business?
The idea for your business must qualify as an engineering concept and it must be approved by the instructor of ENSC201.

How are contestants in the Ken Spencer Competition selected?
The instructors of BUS 477 and ENSC 201 will independently grade the final papers and put forward the 6 or 7 top business plans from those generated by the classes.



During BUS 477, I will ask you to take 3 or 4 online surveys. These short surveys take less than 5 minutes to answer. They help me make adjustments to the course you are taking and improve BUS 477 for future students.

The surveys are anonymous. I can tell who in the class has taken the survey, but I can’t tell which response belongs to which student. That means you have an anonymous outlet to share your true feelings about the class and the instruction you are receiving. It also gives me another way to objectively assign your individual participation grade.

How do the surveys work? I provide a link (URL) to the survey on this website. You follow the link, answer a few rating questions about the class and share any specific feedback or suggestions.

These are very short surveys, so I generally make them active for one week only. I will generally shut down a survey the evening before a class so we can discuss in class. I aim to share survey results on the class website and dedicate a few minutes of class time to it, as well.

Help with using the class website

Here are the answers to some questions about how and what to contribute to the website:

Who can contribute to this website?

The focus of this website is the class: BUS 477 at SFU. Since the topic of new venture planning is of interest to past and future students as well our guest speakers and other entrepreneurs, participation in the Class Discussion forum is open. Students who are currently registered can post whatever they want to the forum. To keep things focused on the class, I moderate the posts of non-students.

How do I get a username (UN) and password (PW)?

Everyone who is on the class list has been given a UN and PW. Your UN is your first name and last name as it appears on the class list. Your password was distributed to you in my introductory email to the class. If you’re not registered in the class and want to be a regular contributor, please contact me for a UN/PW.

Yes, you have to use your actual name, not your dog’s name or your zodiac sign.

How do I change a username (UN) or password (PW)?

Your UN is your name, so it shouldn’t change. It should be in the format Firstname Last name. There should be a space between them. In some cases, there may *not* be a space, so try both ways if you have trouble. Your UN is case sensitive.

Note: The name I used is your name as it appears on the class list I was given by SFU. (I assume the name you used when you registered at SFU, rather than your nickname or English name.) If you are new to the class, auditing, a former student or you change your name, I will need to add you or edit your UN, so please contact me.

I recommend you change your password, as otherwise, your buddies may post stuff under your name that could get you into hot water.

How do I make a post in the class forum?

  • Log in with your username and password. (The login box is on the top right-hand corner of the page.)
  • Click on Class Discussion Forum or the navigation bar at the top of the page. This will take you to the main forum page where you will see an overview of the discussion topics and activity
  • Click on Post new forum topic. This will take you to the editor.
  • Subject. Give your topic a relevant subject name such as “Assignment #2 question”, “Chapter #6 comment”
  • Forums. From the drop-down list, pick the appropriate discussion
  • Body. Enter your comments in the box labeled “body”. You might want to preview the message to make sure its what you want to say. If not, you can always edit later
  • Existing topic? Click on the topic you want to comment on, then “Add a new comment”. Don’t forget to save your comment.

What do I post to the forum?

That’s up to you! Part of your grade for this class is for class and community participation.

  • If you thought something we covered in class sucks, then say it.
  • If you found a great resource that other students in the class might benefit from, share it.
  • If you have a question about the class or class content, ask it.

I will seed some discussions that I feel are relevant to the class such as “What did you think of the assigned reading?” If you posted a question or opinion on the website or raised the issue in class, I will know you were not sleeping… otherwise, I might assume you were. If you don’t ask questions, I assume you understand.

Note, I am looking for quality when it comes time to assign your participation grades. If you want your comment to count toward your grades, be sure to make a good argument. Why do you think something sucks? Compare and contrast the resource you are suggesting to other resources.


How can I keep track of new discussion topics and important information about the class?

You will find new content in two (2) places:

  • Main page. This is information posted by the instructor that is relevant to everyone in the class. You will find the agendas for upcoming classes, guest speaker bios and similar information. You can not comment on these postings. If you have questions about something on the main page, please start a discussion topic using the relevant subject
  • Discussion forums. Anyone can contribute to the class discussion forum. To keep thing simple, there are only 3 discussion categories, as clarified below.

Note: If you log in with your UN and PW, updates to the discussion forum topics will be flagged for you in yellow so you can very easily keep track of what’s new.


How do I classify my contribution to the forum?

To make it easier for you and others to follow our discussion threads, please try to classify your posts according to one of the categories in the drop-down box. Those classifications are clarified here:

Text and Readings

  • If your question or thought refers to something from the class text book or one of the assigned readings.


  • If your question or thought refers to one of the assignments


  • any contribution that doesn’t relate to the readings or assignments



Moderation queue message. What’s that about?

If you make a contribution to the discussion forum, and you get the message “Your comment has been queued for moderation by site administrators and will be published after approval”, it is because you are not recognized as someone in the class.

Check to make sure you have logged in with the UN and PW that was assigned to you at the start of the class.

The discussions are open to people from outside of the class, but to prevent spam, any postings from non-students need to be approved by the instructor.



Commenting on a discussion topic

I strongly encourage you to comment on the discussion topics. This is an extension of our in-class discussions and your contributions count toward your class participation grades.

Leaving a comment is very simple:

  • from the list of topics in the forum, click on the topic you are interested in.  The details of the topic and any discussion thread will be shown
  • at the bottom of the topic, you will see the name of the person who contributed it, the date and a link to “Add New Comment”.  Click the link to add your comment

Hints about adding comments:

  • be sure you are logged in as otherwise, your comment will be seen as being anonymous and will have to wait for approval.
  • be sure to use a relevant subject name so you and others will be able to find the comment in the future.

Guest Speakers

If you are a confirmed or prospective guest speaker, welcome! Please follow the appropriate link below for details on how to prepare and where to find the class:

Guest speaker. Speaks to the class for 45-60 minutes about their personal expertise or entrepreneurial journey.

Guest panelist. Participates in an expert panel that hears the business plan “pitches”